Ever since the kids were little, the back to school season has always signaled a special sort of dreamy denial that I like to call the “fall fantasy”. In the fall fantasy, all of the sins of the summer are magically erased and replaced with wholesome and nostalgic activities: Sweet, clean children eat their starchy dinners and then help with the dishes. Homework is cheerfully completed at the kitchen table. The children go sleepily upstairs in their footed pajamas, while Mom and Dad read the paper in cozy lamplight.
Sadly, the fall fantasy has never actually materialized, and even the thought of it occupies just a sliver of time in each one of our years. Family dinners and leisurely bedtimes turn into casualties of after-school activities, games, and the drama of late-evening homework. Maybe it’s natural optimism; or it could be the coping mechanism of an overworked parent; but over time the fall fantasy has become a comforting vision in itself, and I welcome its warm, yet fleeting, promise each September.
In celebration of this year’s fall fantasy, I’m sharing a favorite recipe meant to be served to a grateful family by lamplight: Grandmaw Peacock’s Chicken and Rice.
Does anyone else have the fall fantasy?